Turning point, unsung hero and what’s next for UW football
AUSTIN, Texas -- The giant had to wake up at some point, right?
While No. 4 Texas hit the snooze button for the first 45 minutes of Saturday's game inside a mostly subdued Darrell K. Royal Stadium, the final quarter was littered with all that star-studded speed, power and athleticism we saw a week prior in that 34-24 stunner in Tuscaloosa.
It all started with a simple flare out to the perimeter.
There, awaiting that Quinn Ewers' heave, Xavier Worthy, a wide receiver who ran a 10.55 in the 100-meter dash as a sophomore in high school.
The 6-foot-1, 172-pound junior planted his right foot and headed straight north, slipping past a Tyrecus Davis tackle with ease. Wyoming safety Wyett Ekeler tried to chase him down. Isaac White thought he had a beat, too.
Worthy cruised into the end zone from 44 yards out to break a 10-10 tie early in the fourth quarter.
Fireworks filled the night sky above. The night-club light show followed. The 100,000-plus in attendance finally had reason to cheer instead of jeer. Those "W-Y-O" chants from the upper deck were officially drowned out by the burnt orange smoke lofting from the student section below.
The giant was awake from his slumber.
Rolling up just 88 yards on the ground through three quarters, the high-powered 'Horns flexed their collective muscle and got busy in the trenches. Jonathon Brooks, who was held in check all night long, broke off a 61-yard dash, cutting right through the Cowboys' front.
The Linebackers weren't in the picture long, either.
Brooks, all 207 pounds of him, ran into Davis around the 35-yard line. Wyoming's cornerback took a ride on his back to around the 10 before teammate Jakorey Hawkins rubbed him right out of the play.
Easton Gibbs eventually tracked down the sophomore at the five. Ewers took care of the rest, plunging past the white stripe and giving the home team a commanding 24-10 advantage with 9:01 to go in regulation.
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The 'Horns, who woke up to a No. 3 ranking in the AP polls, were not done quite yet.
Just two snaps later, Wyoming quarterback Evan Svoboda, who was making his first-career start in place of an injured Andrew Peasley, fired a throw toward the visiting sideline. His intended target was senior Ayir Asante.
It never made it that far.
Terrin Thompson jumped the route and was off to the races, gliding into the end zone untouched from 27 yards out.
Three plays turned this one from a potential upset-of-the-year candidate into a relative laugher. It took Steve Sarkisian's squad all of just 4:10 to put this one to bed.
Don't worry, they did the same thing to the Crimson Tide seven days earlier.
"Hats off to Texas," Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said postgame. "You know, our plan was to take it into the fourth quarter and hopefully come up with a couple of plays. We certainly did that, but on the flipside, they came up with the plays and they made plays. They've got some really good players."
Texas 31, Wyoming 10
Entering Saturday night, Texas had registered seven sacks in wins over Rice and Alabama.
You can tack 14 tackles from loss onto that stat line, too.
The Owls rushed for just 27 yards against the Longhorns on 25 carries. Bama only amassed 107, its leading rusher, Jase McClellan, picking up just 45 of those on 12 carries.
Enter Wyoming's offensive front.
Led by left tackle Frank Crum, the Pokes allowed just a single sack on the night. UT defenders managed just two stops behind the line of scrimmage.
On the opening drive of the game, Harrison Waylee, making his UW debut in the backfield, blew through a massive hole in the right side of the 'Horns front four and outraced the secondary to the end zone for a 62-yard touchdown.
Right guard Jack Walsh smashed his man in the mouth and sealed him to the right. Tackle Caden Barnett did the same. Wyoming center Nofoafia Tulafono drove his man to the left and it was off to the races for Waylee with just Thompson left to beat.
"Oh, my gosh, they killed it," Svoboda said. "They held their own tonight. They did great -- I mean, those guys were really big -- but the offensive line, they are spectacular and they really killed it tonight. I really appreciated them."
-- That was a postgame tweet (meaning 'cool') from former Wyoming wide receiver Isaiah Neyor, who left Laramie via the NCAA Transfer Portal and landed in Austin before the 2022 season. Neyor, who has just one catch for 14 yards this season, never saw the field against the Cowboys.
"Those were some big dudes. No. 93, their big D-tackle, at one point I looked up and couldn't see the top of his head, he's so tall. For our guys to really hold their own in there, we have a great offensive line. I wish we could have played them at our place and see if we could've gassed them out a little bit, but they definitely played well."
-- Wyoming wide receiver Wyatt Wieland talking about the performance of the Cowboys' unproven offensive line and UT interior lineman T'Vondre Sweat, who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs in at 362. Sweat finished with just three tackles, including one for loss.
"We had a lot of sore backs from people patting us on the back congratulating us. It’s human nature to get distracted by that and you lose sight of what’s right in front of you."
-- UT head coach Steve Sarkisian on his team's mindset in this one a week after upsetting Alabama.
Wyoming will close out the non-conference schedule next Saturday in Laramie against Appalachian State. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. Mountain Time and the game will be televised on CBS Sports Network. The Cowboys and Mountaineers have met just twice before, splitting the series with both winning at home. UW fell 31-13 in Boone, N.C. back in 2015. Joe Glenn's Cowboys rolled the visitors 53-7 in 2004. App State enters this game at 2-1 overall after a 43-28 home win over East Carolina.
University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players
- University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players